Active Enterprises LTD… the very name strikes fear into the heart of any gamer that has ever heard of the company… and today I will reveal exactly who was behind the company, who it was who made these games. First, however, I shall give you a little back story into the search for Active Enterprises.
It all started on a pleasant summer afternoon, making my standard trips into the video game stores I obtained a cartridge of Action 52. Soon after I returned to my home I began playing the game, I realized how horrible it truly was, but for some reason, I kept playing… months later, I was still playing… and now I was searching for the elusive Active Enterprises.
All information that was readily available to the public was from various NES sites, most filled with little information or non-information that was not too helpful in my quest to locate the company. It was at this point that I began contacting TRM of the popular NES site “The Warp Zone”, he was quite helpful and assisted in my search by providing any information that he had found.
However, that information did not lead to Active as I had hoped it would, so I was required to do some more searching… and search I did, this searching led me to FarSight Studios, the company that created the Genesis version of Action 52. After sending an e-mail to the company it was quickly responded to by the first person I located in my search.
Obernolte contacted me back within several minutes of my initial e-mail giving me a phone number to call him at his work number. At the time this phone call could not be made for various reasons, one of which being that I had no idea what his connection was to Active or even if he worked on the game. I continued playing the e-mail game, throwing an excuse out as to why I could not phone him led to yet another e-mail saying that he was fine with answering any questions I might ask through e-mail. I asked a few short questions and was quickly given the response of “WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THIS?”, yes, in all capital letters. I explained my position and was anxious to receive another e-mail response from Mr. Obernolte but I received nothing, for several months following I would continue to send him a brief weekly e-mail hoping for a response but it never came. During this period I continued my work.
During this period of time I continued to investigate FarSight Studios, it was quite strange to see such a strange defensive response from a company that was thought to have no connection to Active Enterprises other than working on one game and to have had perfectly clean business practices… searching Google’s Usenet archives I came across a post from the Summer of 1993 from the second person I located in my search.
In his posting, Ziolkowski stated that he knew “the guy” working on Action 52 for the Sega Genesis and claimed that he had played it and knew it was quality work. This posting made me fairly suspicious of Ziolkowski and I did more research on him, turning up that he in fact had worked for FarSight Studios and did during this period of time. I traced him down to a current e-mail address and sent a message… no response, after sending another message to him I received a response stating that “I am not the Chris Ziolkowski that posted this message to Usenet in the summer of 1993, however, I do know him. WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THIS?”… yes, he expected me to believe that he just happened to have a friend sharing the same exact and quite a rare name, and also tossed in the old “WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THIS” for good measure. I sent him a response and as with Jay Obernolte it apparently indicated that I “knew too much” and I never received a response. I continued mailing the response to him weekly in hopes of receiving some information but never received anything.
With FarSight Studios electing to keep their lips tightly sealed I decided to move in a different direction. Knowing that the United States Government had a freely available patent and trademark server I decided to check for the things that Active claimed to have trademarked. What I found was that “Action 52” and “Cheetahmen” were registered trademarks of Active Enterprises. With this information I was able to locate a warehouse address in Nassau, Bahamas [900 Warehouse (Newington)] this is where they were based shortly before they disappeared off the face of the earth, according to the U.S. Patent/Trademark office it was their address on 12/21/1993. From here I was ready to search for this warehouse, after a brief search I found that it is apparently currently used by Society Capital Management Limited, and any connection it may have had to Active Enterprises is now gone…
Nearly ready to give up, I stumbled onto a nice little clue. That being the following wording on a page:
“Active Enterprises LTD:: voice technologies
Description: Active Enterprises LTD. is an international company based in Nassau Bahamas. We began developing innovative projects in 1991 when we released the worlds first multigame cartridge for the Nintendo gaming system. Today we provide high-quality, offshore software development services and Web design solutions at excellent rates. We specialize in voice-controlled applications that feature the latest in both speech recognition and text-to-speech technologies. Active Enterprises helps companies around the world to leverage the power of the Internet by placing highly qualified software programming specialists, project managers, and analysts at their fingertips.”
And guess what? That was as of 2001. Normally people have said that “Active went bankrupt and disappeared…”, people thought that they had put themselves out of business after releasing Action 52 for the Genesis and the NES, but that was not the case at all. Active Enterprises is still kicking…
So… why weren’t there other games released? Why the sudden change? Simple, FarSight Studios signed an exclusive contract with Sega in 1994 to work on their NFL Football series for the next couple of years. FarSight knew how to program on the SNES and the Genesis, Active Enterprises didn’t, the NES was dead by early 1994 [when Cheetahmen II would have been released] and thus Active decided to forget the video game market and head somewhere else.